Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas humility

Sober Fact

Christians believe that so great is God’s love and concern for humanity that God became human. We do well to remember that God’s insertion into human history was achieved with an almost frightening quietness and humility. There was no…special privilege; in fact the entry of God into God’s own world was almost heartbreakingly humble. In sober fact there is little romance or beauty in the thought of a young woman looking desperately for a place where she could give birth to her first baby.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Kids: Rich/Poor

Copyright © , Dallas Morning News, All rights reserved.


Rich kid, poor kid: Child-rearing differences stark

Socioeconomic divisions create varied paths with long-term consequences

The lives of children from rich and poor American families look more different than ever.

Well-off families are ruled by calendars, with children enrolled in ballet, soccer and after-school programs, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. There are usually two parents, who spend a lot of time reading to children and worrying about their anxiety levels and hectic schedules.

In poor families, children tend to spend their time at home or with extended family, the survey found. They are more likely to grow up in neighborhoods their parents say aren’t great for raising children, and their parents worry about them getting shot, beaten up or in trouble with the law.

The class differences in child rearing are growing, researchers say — a symptom of widening inequality with far-reaching consequences. Different upbringings set children on different paths and can deepen socioeconomic divisions, especially because education is strongly linked to earnings. Children grow up learning the skills to succeed in their socioeconomic stratum, but not necessarily in others.

“Early childhood experiences can be very consequential for children’s long-term social, emotional and cognitive development,” said Sean Reardon, professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford University. “And because those influence educational success and later earnings, early childhood experiences cast a lifelong shadow.”

The cycle continues: Poorer parents have less time and fewer resources to invest in their children, which leaves children less prepared for school and work, which leads to lower earnings.

American parents want similar things for their children, the Pew report and past research has found: for them to be healthy and happy, honest and ethical, caring and compassionate. There is no best parenting style or philosophy, researchers say, and across income groups, 92 percent of parents say they are doing a good job of raising their children.

Yet they are doing it quite differently.

Higher-income parents see their children as projects in need of careful cultivation, says Annette Lareau, whose groundbreaking research on the topic was published in her book Unequal Childhoods. They try to develop their skills through close supervision and organized activities, and teach children to question authority figures and navigate elite institutions.

Working-class parents, meanwhile, believe their children will naturally thrive, and give them far greater independence and time for free play. They are taught to be compliant and deferential to adults.

There are benefits to both. Working-class children are happier, more independent, whine less and are closer to family members, Lareau found. Higher-income children are more likely to declare boredom and expect their parents to solve their problems.

Yet later on, the affluent children end up in college and en route to the middle class, while working-class children struggle. Middle-class child rearing equips children with the skills to navigate bureaucracies and succeed in schools and workplaces, Lareau said.

Social scientists say the differences arise in part because low-income parents have less money to spend on music class or preschool, and less flexible schedules to take children to museums or attend school events.

Extracurricular activities epitomize the differences in child rearing in the Pew survey, which was of a nationally representative sample of 1,807 parents. Of families earning more than $75,000 a year, 84 percent say their children have participated in organized sports over the past year, 64 percent have done volunteer work and 62 percent have taken lessons in music, dance or art. Of families earning less than $30,000, 59 percent of children have participated in sports, 37 percent have volunteered and 41 percent have taken classes in the arts.

The survey also looked at attitudes and anxieties. Interestingly, parents’ attitudes toward education do not seem to reflect their own educational background as much as a belief in the importance of education for upward mobility.

Most American parents say they are not concerned about their children’s grades as long as they work hard. But 50 percent of poor parents say it is extremely important to them that their children earn a college degree, compared with 39 percent of wealthier parents.

Parental anxieties reflect their circumstances. High-earning parents are much more likely to say they live in a good neighborhood for raising children. While bullying is parents’ greatest concern overall, nearly half of low-income parents worry their child will get shot, compared with one-fifth of high-income parents. They are more worried about their children being depressed or anxious.

Claire Cain Miller,
The New York Times

Monday, December 21, 2015

Housing facts of life

Most of us don't understand the housing dynamic at work across the nation and how it drastically affects low-income Americans .  Here's a description of  part of the reality we face in urban areas:

"Nationwide, even as the rental market is growing across all income levels and homeownership has decreased for eight years running, new apartments are predominantly built for the rich. Only about 10 percent of rental apartments coming into the market are affordable to people who make less than $35,000 per year — that is, the group that encompasses half the total number of rental households. The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reports that the median asking rent for a new unit in 2013 was a startling $1,300 a month. Meanwhile, the rate of both subsidized and “naturally occurring” affordable units is shrinking, because owners are either raising rents in strong markets or, in weak markets, they let the units deteriorate until they become unlivable."

Source here.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday needs, holiday greetings. . .



Everything we do costs money. That’s the nature of the world today, right? It takes money to fight poverty. Lots of it.

It costs $15 million to operate CitySquare each year. Annually, that amount allows us to touch the lives of tens of thousands of neighbors. Sometimes we see that neighbor only once when they visit the food pantry between paychecks. Other times, we see them daily as they access a wide range of CitySquare services.

In the month of December, we’ve set out to raise $1 million. That amount of money will allow our WorkPaths training courses to continue to provide 100% of graduates with industry standard certifications. It will allow our clinic to be a medical home to 3,000 uninsured individuals. It will once more allow our food pantry to put more than one million pounds of food in the hands of neighbors who worry where their next meal will come from. A $1 million goal maintains hope in the heart of our organization.

This is why we have set such a lofty goal by the end of 2015. Please consider making a gift today to make this work possible.

We can’t do it without you.

For our city,
Larry James
Chief Executive Officer, CitySquare

CitySquare 511 N Akard Street, Suite 302  |  Dallas, TX  |  75201
P: 214.823.8710  |  F: 214.824.5355  |  Email:

© 2013 CitySquare

Thursday, December 17, 2015

advent: now what?

where to turn?
this cold night gives way
to another day of "what now?"

old, raggedy, damp house
trying to bring kids to a
better address--all they get is sick

but, really now,
so what?
don't nobody "get it," hardly

feeling surrounded by
"the surround" of
continual stress about "what now?"

baby working in dim light
over sheets, pages of
homework--do I have a home?

what is my work?
feeling sold out to
"what's the use?"

and now, Christmas done
come again
to what end--disappointed kids?

folks singing carols in church
where I ain't
really welcome, not really, right?

somehow, though, I see
my babies in
that one baby

now what,
for us and


advent 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

No hate zone--the way church should be

Possibly you read Jacquielynn Floyd's provocative column in The Dallas Morning News on hatred among members of faith communities in Dallas.  In the essay she mentions the recent sermon delivered at St. Rita Catholic Church by Fr. Joshua Whitfield, St. Rita’s Director of Faith Formation and Education. 

The message moved out into the deep and necessary waters of courage and faithfulness.  Fr. Whitfield personifies the role and work of the faithful pastor.  His message is worth reading.  Repentance is not something we talk about much these days. 

Here's how the good Father begins:

2 Advent C (12.6.15)
Luke 3:1-6
I feel I need to tell this story again. It’s a remarkable story. In the summer of 1966 James
Meredith was shot walking along old Highway 51 near Hernando, Mississippi. He had begun what
he called his “walk against fear,” a risky endeavor, when we was shot by Aubrey James Norvell from
Memphis. Meredith survived, and as he lay recovering in a Memphis hospital, the whole civil rights
movement descended upon Memphis—Dr. King and many others. They were determined to
continue the march into northern Mississippi, and so they set out along that hot asphalt that had
been so dangerous for Meredith just a few days earlier.
It was a tumultuous and unharmonious band of civil rights activists however—there was by
that time considerable disagreement about the character and future of the movement, and it was in
the summer of 1966, there in northern Mississippi, that these differences began to boil. On the
march with Dr. King was a young man named Stokely Carmichael, then chair of the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. But he had seen enough, he had had enough, and it was at a
rally on an elementary school playground that Carmichael introduced as a chant the words, “Black
Power!” He said in his speech that night that “every courthouse in Mississippi should be burnt down
tomorrow.” This bright young man had had enough.
King obviously was troubled by this—“Immediately I had reservations,” he said. The next
week King took a detour to lead a small march of Baptists in Philadelphia, Mississippi. There, in
1964 three civil rights workers had been abducted and killed, but no one as had yet been brought
to justice. There, in Philadelphia, King led marchers along the road into town, cars speeding past
the people, inches away. One man drove down the road with a club in his hand, taking swings as he
raced by. At the courthouse, King met the deputy sheriff, Cecil Ray Price (he would be convicted for
those 1964 murders the next year—the movie Mississippi Burning tells the story). “You’re the one
who…had those fellows in jail?” King asked him. “Yes, sir,” he said as he kept King and the other
marchers off the courthouse lawn.

So King turned around and. . . .

Read the entire, amazing sermon here.  The rest of the message takes a most relevant turn to today.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Plan for "great reads" without needing to read a single book!

Book Selections for the
2016 Urban Engagement Book Club

The Third Thursday of Each Month

CitySquare Opportunity Center
                             1610 S Malcolm X Blvd.
                                  Dallas, TX 75226

January -- Broke, USA From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. - How the Working Poor Became Big Business by Gary Rivlin

February -- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption - by Bryan Stevenson

March -- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

April -- Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

May -- Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning) by Dr. Marion Nestle

June -- Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado

July -- Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr

August -- Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America (City Lights Open Media) by Tim Wise  

September -- Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica 

October -- All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America? by Joel Berg 

November -- Latino America: How America’s Most Dynamic Population is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation by Matt Barreto and Gary M. Segura 

December -- Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few by Robert B. Reich


Monday, December 14, 2015

Prison reality--USA

No other nation has more people locked up than the USA.
Our prison/incarceration policy results in the destruction of families and neighborhoods.

Our policies cost us a fortune annually, funds that should be invested in education, job skills training, health care, public safety, housing. . .the list goes on and on.

I found this chart very useful in putting the entire picture in perspective.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

In life

Unorganized Religion

The most significant religious events recounted in the Bible do not occur in ‘temples made with hands.’ The most important religion in that book is unorganized and is sometimes profoundly disruptive of organization. From Abraham to Jesus, the most important people are not priests but shepherds, soldiers, property owners, workers, housewives, queens and kings, manservants and maidservants, fishermen, prisoners, whores, even bureaucrats. The great visionary encounters did not take place in temples but in sheep pastures, in the desert, in the wilderness, on mountains, on the shores of rivers and the sea, in the middle of the sea, in prisons…. Religion, according to this view, is less to be celebrated in rituals than practiced in the world.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Potential Resident Profiles from The Cottages at Hickory Crossing. . .

Quick facts on the 96 candidates for permanent supportive housing in The Cottages at Hickory Crossing:

6% Hispanic
28% White
66% Black

34% Female
66% Male

Mean 50.4085
Median 50

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A plan to consider. . .

Recently, the American Enterprise Institute published a report on poverty in the United States today. Teaming up with Brookings Institute, a diverse group working from varied perspectives captured an interesting result.

What follows introduces the process and some of the results. I'd love your reactions to the report.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Value propositions and barriers to housing

The Threat to Detroit’s Rebound Isn’t Crime or the Economy, It’s the Mortgage Industry

Redlining is alive, well and dangerous in Detroit.

Published on Dec 7, 2015
As a young married couple, Steven and Corey Josephson chose to begin their lives together in Detroit. They came from Greeley, Colorado, a city that couldn’t be more different. It was founded as an experimental utopian community; its majority-white population has more than doubled since 1970; and its unemployment rate is lower than the national average, and about half that of Detroit.

But in August 2014, they left. Corey, a theater and English teacher, grew up in Michigan, and Steven found a position in Detroit’s Teach for America program, teaching science to the youngest kids at Coleman A. Young Elementary School.

Along with their beagle, Baley, they moved into a house in northeast Detroit near 8 Mile Road. “We loved the house, we loved the neighbors,” Steven Josephson says. They were renting, but “homes are just so cheap here, it makes more sense to buy.” So they approached their landlord about purchasing the home. At first, everything moved smoothly — but then, Josephson said, the landlord backed out.

Read more here.

Monday, December 07, 2015

EITC and tax season

For your information. . .

(EITC) Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign Kick-Off 

Thursday, December 10, 2015; 1-3 pm; MLK, Jr. Recreation Center; 2901 Pennsylvania, Dallas, 75215. Help the Anti-Poverty Coalition of Greater Dallas and others promote this important tax exemption that can put thousands of dollars in the pockets of working families making under $53,000 a year.
For more information, contact Galen Smith, 214-978-0098;

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"demographic equivalent of E=mc2"

Kay S. Hymowitz
Why Spike Lee Is Wrong About Gentrification
We’ve yet to find a better alternative for urban revival.
Autumn 2015
Columbia Heights, one of several Washington, D.C., neighborhoods that declined during the 1960s, has been transformed by gentrification.

In the 1990s, decades after the riots that followed the 1968 murder of Martin Luther King, the Washington, D.C., neighborhoods of Logan Circle and Columbia Heights still showed scars of that terrible time. Through many of those years, the mostly black residents of those areas would be in luck if they were looking for a prostitute or a drug deal; they had a harder time tracking down fresh spinach or blood-pressure medication. Logan Circle’s elegant Civil War–era mansions were crumbling or boarded up; the turreted row houses of Columbia Heights were in even worse shape.

Still, the local D.C. government was growing aware of the potential of these two neighborhoods, near as they were to federal government offices and the swarm of lobbying and law firms and media and public-relations outfits near them. In 1999, a metro stop opened in Columbia Heights, right across the street from a spiffy new Target. A Whole Foods took up residence a year later in a former auto-parts store near Logan Circle. Fortuitously, the District was at the same moment beginning to catch the eye of a growing number of career-hungry recent college grads.

Read more here

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

National dilemma: "to house or not to house"

The same challenge confronts communities, especially large urban areas, all across the nation.

What are we to do with people who have no place to live?

Of course, the clear and most effective answer is to provide permanent supportive housing for anyone who is on the street and in need of a "housing solution," and provide it first.

Shelters, like the one described in the video news report, are designed to address emergency situations. However, everywhere these shelters turn into long-term housing solutions for many, something that they simply are not.

Here's a story from Denver, CO, a city where CitySquare works every day.

We hope that someday, sooner rather than later, we will be able to bring new housing stock to some of the people you'll see in the report.

And, by the way, permanent supportive housing, once built and leased, usually improves neighborhoods and mitigates complaints and fears that always crop up.

Much work to do.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Living until and through the end. . .

Most Beautiful

Beautiful are the youth
whose rich emotions flash and burn,
whose lithe bodies filled with energy and grace
sway in their happy dance of life;
and beautiful likewise are the mature
who have learned compassion and patience,
charity and wisdom, though they
be rarer far than beautiful youth.
But most beautiful and most rare is a gracious old age
which has drawn from life the skill to take its varied strands:
the harsh advance of age, the pang of grief,
the passing of dear friends, the loss of strength,
and with fresh insight weave them
into a rich and gracious pattern all its own.
This is the greatest skill of all,
to take the bitter with the sweet and make it beautiful,
to take the whole of life in all its moods,
its strengths and weaknesses,
and of the whole make one great and celestial harmony.

Monday, November 16, 2015


I'm no longer hesitant to tell you:  I believe in angels. 

Here's what I've learned about these other-worldly beings:

Angels seldom present with all of their teeth.

Angels often wear dirty, worn out clothing rather than white raiment and feathery wings.

Angels know how to beg--apparently, they've been doing it for centuries.

Angels reframe my take on the 24-hour-a-day news cycle. 

Often, angels just "appear." 

Angels "disappear" just as easily.

Sometimes, angels smell bad.  Actually, they smell bad most of the time! (Maybe the trip from heaven causes that.)

In my experience, angels almost always appear very, very poor.

If I give them just a moment of my attention, they'll tell me everything that I wonder about them.

Angels keep me confused by their  requests, their honesty and their simplicity.

Angels reveal to me that this world is not all there is by any stretch of the imagination! 

Angels put all of my problems into healthy perspective; which is likely the reason why they show up so often in my world. 

Angels can be aggravating!

Angels show me the way to be human.

Angels exist everywhere.

Angels come to bring me a word of truth that I need but too often resist!

Funny, over the last two decades living and working among impoverished folks, I've met more angels than in all my life before. 

Angels love "poor people."  As a matter of fact, the homeless poor in Dallas, and especially those in "tent city," reside with the angels. 

Just sayin.'

Friday, November 13, 2015

Can we just get real, people?

Hey, a "must read" from our friends at The Dallas Morning News:

First shot in this year’s phony ‘War on Christmas’
Like everything connected to Christmas, this year’s “War on Christmas” freakout has arrived early. And it has taken the form of a red Starbucks cup.

Never mind that stores across America are already playing Christmas carols.

Forget that Wal-Mart started its holiday layaway plan in August, and Target rolled out the Christmas trees alongside Halloween decorations in September.

Read more here. 

Blog owner's note:  People who really care about keeping Christ in Christmas should more far, far away from this silliness.  No wonder most people select "None" when it comes to religious/faith preference. 


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Health Coverage Here!

Get covered!

Do you want to make a difference in your community? Here’s an opportunity for you (or someone you know!): Be a Fellow for the Get Covered America campaign.

Fellows work closely with our staff to get the word out about how people can get covered and stay covered under Obamacare. And they get to learn tangible skills, including:
  • Grassroots organizing
  • Data management
  • Coalition building
  • Media outreach
  • And more!
So, as a Fellow, you’ll get advanced training on cutting-edge outreach strategies, all while helping more people get quality, affordable health insurance. What’s not to like?

The deadline to apply is November 13th -- start your application today!

We look forward to hearing from you!

The Get Covered America team

P.S. Know someone who might be interested? Forward this post to them!

Thursday, October 29, 2015



If I were to wish for anything I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of what can be, for the eye, which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How to build wealth at "the bottom" Part 3

To build wealth among low-income people we've got to get honest about a few critical elements of the U. S. economy today that call for reform.

We could increase the wealth/earning power of millions of low-income families by enacting comprehensive immigration reform.  Such reform would re-frame the entire security (i.e. "build a wall on the southern border) conversation.  Building on the work that has been done on border security; reform should create an efficient, user friendly, guest worker program; complete with green cards/swipe cards that would allow passage back and forth along the southern border as it is to the north. 

As millions of productive workers stepped into the light of the U. S. economy, wages would rise, taxes paid would increase, innovation would emerge and the economies on both sides of the border would expand.  Clearly, continuing refusal to strike a deal on comprehensive reform keeps wages artificially low and explains in large part why we've not been able to achieve a sane policy. 

To be sure, the benefit of a sub-culture that labors for extremely low wages can't be ignored.  The real worry today regarding reform has more to do with the security of our wallets than that of our neighbors who hide in the shadowy places of our economy. This must change.

Further, pathways to citizenship have never hurt our nation.  In fact, openness to immigrants all the way to the full national inclusion of citizenship is a hallmark of American national life and expectation. 

Wealth building at the bottom demands that we embrace policies that intentionally, methodically, and legally work against every expression of segregation in our national and community life.  Nationally, we need to be all shook up!  Inclusionary zoning laws (illegal in Texas) need to be applied across the nation, particularly in our metropolitan areas. 

Housing developers, education systems, health care providers, county and city governments that discriminate on the basis of race or class should be penalized severely.  Discrimination must not be tolerated by individuals, families, communities, states or the broader nation.  If we're honest, we will freely admit that discrimination continues to plague us. 

Faith communities need to step up and help us achieve a new, never before realized sensitivity to the negative forces accompanying discrimination directed toward others who don't seem life us, but in fact, are our brothers and sisters.  We must face the harsh truth that much of the poverty in our nation results from the poisonous dynamics of discrimination and prejudice in personal actions, as well as in public policy. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

How to build wealth at "the bottom" Part 2

So, here's how we ended in my last post:

. . . a growing underclass struggles with intensive  toxic stress, resulting in a spiral downward for tens of millions of Americans. 

Poverty is growing. 

Poverty is tragic.

Poverty presents possibly the most serious threat to our nation's long-term security. 

What is necessary to overcome these negative forces?  How, in fact, do we build wealth at "the bottom?"

This seems so obvious, but to overcome poverty and its various expressions leading to the toxic stress ravaging so many urban neighborhoods we must create higher income levels among today's working poor. 

How do we do that? 

What steps must we take if we are really serious about attacking the problem of poverty? 

Step one:  raises wages, and not just to minimum wage expected standards.  Wages must rise to a livable level--the paycheck required for a full-time employee to be able to care for himself/herself and whatever family.  Wages have risen for the upper-class at historic and astounding percentages over the past 20 years, while the middle and lower classes have seen wage stagnation and exploitation produce the biggest income gap since the early 20th century.  This must change.

Step two:  provide quality, affordable health care to everyone who works and for the disabled who cannot work.  Health care costs and health disasters drive much of the growth in poverty since the 1990s.  An example of leadership failure in this regard is the state of Texas' refusal to expand Medicaid for our poorest citizens.  Not only is this shameful, it is terrible business practice. 

Step three:  develop and execute on a plan that enables millions of us to prepare for and purchase a home.  Nothing grows real wealth like homeownership. The expansion of efforts to teach financial literacy when coupled with the real prospect of home ownership will only drive incomes in the right direction.

Step four:  expand educational options for everyone.  Creative efforts to re-purpose public schools and libraries as community learning centers for children and adults could produce good results.  Finding ways to reduce student debt for those seeking college opportunities will be essential to progress in filling the mid-level and upper-level skill sets for which employers continually request. 

Step five:  eliminate predatory lenders and lending schemes and provide consumer protection against such unjust businesses.  Payday lenders must be declared illegal enterprises.  At the same time, banks must develop credit products for low-income households as a part of their community reinvestment requirements. 

Step six: require 1-2 years of national service along the lines of AmeriCorps on the part of all our high school graduates.  This "youth corps" effort would come with a monthly stipend and educational awards upon completion of each members tour of service.  Such an effort would provide meaningful work for students, significant impact on communities and pathways to careers across the spectrum of labor sectors. 

Stay tuned for part 3.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Where Is It?

Four young men sit by the bedside of their dying father. The old man, with his last breath, tells them there is a huge treasure buried in the family fields. The sons crowd around him crying, “Where, where?” but it is too late. The day after the funeral and for many days to come, the young men go out with their picks and shovels and turn the soil, digging deeply into the ground from one end of each field to the other. They find nothing and, bitterly disappointed, abandon the search. The next season the farm has its best harvest ever.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Building wealth at "the bottom" Part 1

Poverty is not complicated in terms of seeing its impact and affect on people. 

However, the forces causing it can be beyond complicated. 

The American economy has experienced seismic shifts since the end of World War II.  Companies experienced great growth,  A generation went to college. A great middle class emerged. Industry exploded with technological and product innovations. Wealth grew, and much of that wealth landed in the stock market as more and more companies "went public." 

More recently, companies find it in their best interests to move out of the United States when it is time to build new facilities, manage labor costs and for other off-shore advantages. 

Technological advancements displaced workers and continue to do so.  Labor unions experienced a rather sharp decline in influence and power.  The expectation of the coming economy involves additional job losses, especially for low or under-skilled workers. 

Socially, continuing income and racial segregation result in dire consequences to the economy, to
public health, to public and higher education, to quality of available housing stock, to public engagement and to overall community well being.  The division of rich and poor geographically hurts us all.  The unfulfilled dreams of the American civil rights movement play a big part here.

Caught up in these and many other negative forces, a growing underclass struggles with intensive  toxic stress, resulting in a spiral downward for tens of millions of Americans. 

Poverty is growing. 

Poverty is tragic.

Poverty presents possibly the most serious threat to our nation's long-term security. 

What is necessary to overcome these negative forces?  How, in fact, do we build wealth at "the bottom?"

Check back with me over the next few posts as I attempt to deal with these vexing questions.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Just City?

Next City, an urban focused list serve/online resource, is something I check in on almost every day.  Recently, the producers of Next City and other partners authored an e-book--actually a collection of essays, "The Just City Essays," that will be unveiled during this week at their website.  You can read details about the process here

What follows is taken from the first essay written by Darnell L. Moore in the challenging collection. 

Feedback appreciated!

Darnell L. Moore is Senior Editor at Mic. He is also a co-managing editor of The Feminist Wire and Writer-in-Residence at the Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice at Columbia University. He is a member of the Black Lives Matter network and co-organized the BLM Freedom Ride to Ferguson in 2014.

Urban Spaces and the Mattering of Black Lives

The more insidious problem is the belief that whiteness at all times and in all places signifies safety and bounty and, therefore, represents a site of investment: new stores selling expensive items begin emerging; the same stores stay open (the doors and not just side windows) twenty-four hours; realtors finally begin to take an interest in property sales; nameless and faceless ‘investors’ begin leaving cheap flyers on stoops or in mailboxes promising cash for homes. Safety becomes a relative experience when gentrification occurs. The presence of white people almost always guarantees the increased presence of resources, like police, which does not always guarantee safety for black people in those same spaces.

A “just city,” then, is a space where one’s hued flesh does not determine one’s full or limited access to equity and safety in communities where she or he lives and works. To vision and create the type of city that is not a built rendition of the biased ideologies we maintain requires a liberated imagination, but we can only free our minds from the chains of anti-blackness and classism when we first acknowledge each has its hold on us. An expanded public dialogue is necessary for us to arrive at this set of shared understandings.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Progress only in failure

Willing to Fail or Succeed

Risk requires that we be willing to fail as well as succeed, to be wrong as well as right. Risking failure is the doorway to consciousness, the anthem of our humanity. And while it may look to the observer that we have learned to trust ourselves when we put our call in the public eye, we have, in fact, begun to trust something deeper, more mysterious and powerful, which in turn frees us to act in ways that may seem foolish, even foolhardy, to others.